Growth through tackling the unknown

I teach on-line for Indiana Wesleyan University as an adjunct professor. That means I get a class to teach if no one else wants it or if enrollment forces them to add a section. Mostly I teach public health because that is where my strength is. However, I am just finishing up a class on caring for vulnerable populations.

In the class, the students chose a vulnerable group (homeless, elderly, handicapped, uninsured, non-English speaking, etc.) and focused on that population for the duration of the course.

Initially, students are reluctant to leave the security of their own practices. If you are an ICU nurse, you understand the technology, needs and issues of your hospitalized patients. You don’t want to serve meals at a homeless shelter, or get into a discussion with an unwed pregnant teen.

This pushes you from where you are comfortable into the unknown. We all want to seem competent, and the unknown is, well, unknown. We may fall flat on our faces and look stupid. But, in order to pass the course, the students had to take the leap. And in the process they grew. Every one of them.

Most of us are like my students. We live in a place that is familiar to us, a comfort zone. We know the rules of our jobs and homes, we understand our families. We safely navigate through each day. But when an opportunity to move from this comfort zone to do something different occurs, we hesitate. We don't want to travel the road less traveled.

We don’t want to volunteer at our monthly breakfast for the hungry, or greet a less-than-clean visitor on Sunday morning. We don’t want to invite our neighbors over for dinner. What if they become leaches and we can’t get rid of them? Besides, at the end of our predictable days, we are, predictably, tired.

In his sermon this past week my pastor suggested that we confront the thing that we are most afraid of doing. For him, it was traveling to the Orient. I wonder what would happen if each of us, like my students, forced ourselves to do one thing that makes us uncomfortable. My guess is, we would grow! Something inside of us would bloom, and our eyes would open to new possibilities and challenges.

It is the holiday season, a time when we have the most to do. But over the next three weeks I hope you will consider what it is that you are afraid of doing, and if possible, arrange to do it. You might just have the most blessed Christmas ever!

Have a great week, Regina

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